Syrian insurgents seek to swap seized Russian traveler for arrested associates - Russian activist
The Syrian insurgent armed group Liwa al-Tawhid holding Russian traveler Konstantin Zhuravlyov no longer suspects him as a spy but is not hurrying to free him, Oleg Melnikov, a member of the Russian organization Alternativa working to secure Zhuravlyov's liberation, told Interfax on Saturday.
"It's been clear to everyone that he is not a spy, and there is nothing to spy for there, as it's much easier to get intelligence using a drone or a satellite. They'll try to swap him for people in jail," Melnikov said.
Activists asked special services to help release Zhuravlyov but were told to send an official letter, a reply to which is supposed to be given within a month, he said.
Activists will try to have Zhuravlyov freed without swapping him for arrested insurgents, Melnikov said.
Members of Liwa al-Tawhid seized Zhuravlyov, a Tomsk-based traveler, photographer and blogger, in northern Syria in early October 2013. His capturers declared online that he was a Russian spy and warned that a decision on his fate would be made "based on findings of a Sharia investigation."
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was working to secure Zhuravlyov's speedy release.
Mufti Nurulla Kalykakhunov of the Tomsk regional spiritual board of the Siberian Muftiate earlier called on the Syrian insurgents to free the Russian traveler.
It was reported on November 20, 2013 that Alternativa activists had left for Syria to free Zhuravlyov from captivity.